My Tunes

With the exception of 4 or 5 of my tunes, everything else I have written has been based on conversations.  When I wrote the songs I recorded with my band, the entire song would have things a person said to me and/or things i said to them.  I would try to match the cadence of what they said and put notes to the sound of their voice.  There are no vocals in any of my tunes, however every measure has a sentence attached to it.  If I were to tell you the excerpts, it wouldn’t make much sense, but, put together musically with a chord progression and I rhythm  it seems to come together.

On my  profile, there are several tunes that show this.  “Russian” is a tune that is based on things a russian waitress said to me or my friend as we had breakfast at a hotel dining room.  In the beginning of  “At the Cafe”, it is the barista asking me a question, in the middle it is a “film noir” style narration. Those are just a couple of examples.  “Now What”  starts of with eight measures of  “Hi, how are you” a repetitious “Hi, how are you?”  which is me asking someone I wanted to meet, who came into my restaurant everyday.  Finally, she said “Now What” and she actually says that on the disc.  I respond with, “are you talking to me?” with my saxophone and then go right into the tune.

Now, things are a little different.  I perform as a solo artist.  I don’t have a band backing me, there aren’t any chord progressions, so I keep the same concept, but as I said, it is just slightly different.  I just take one sentence or phrase and put a melody to that the way I always did.  I repeat that melody line at the beginning of the tune and then improv the rest, repeating the melody once in a while throughout the tune and playing off that.  Unfortunately, 2 of the three solo tunes I have on my profile are ones that are not based on a sentence.  “Coffee” is though, and the first sentence on there is “Do you have hazelnut today?”  That was a question that was asked when we went out to breakfast at a certain restaurant.  The rest of it is completely improvised based on the first line.

When I play gigs  here in Savannah,  I play a lot of older big band standards and some jazz classics, to  get started.  Then I explain to the people there what I do, and ask if they would like to participate.  So, they give me a sentence, I figure it out, then I will improv a tune right on the spot, especially for them.  It is a lot of fun.  The ones I like and remember, I will use when I play in the Squares or on River St. or even at another gig.  Some of these I will post shortly as soon as I get them recorded.

Now that you know the stories behind some of my tunes, I hope that will bring even more enjoyment.  As I post the new ones I will explain what they are about.

Thank you for reading this post.  -James

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